I'm not your average American Tottenham fan. I grew up in London and was lucky enough to have season tickets for almost a decade. I left London for Missouri (of all places) in 2006, but my dad kept both seats. So when a cheeky weeks vacation in London coincided with Bolton in the cup, there was a ticket waiting for me. Having not been back in more than two years, I was absolutely giddy to see old friends (on the pitch and off).
Obviously, what happened wasn't what I expected.
I won't say what happened changed my life like BAE, but when Bryan asked me to write something on it, I figured it was a good way to dump the range of emotions I'd been through onto a page.
The game had started quickly, but was settling into a pre-half-time lull. When Bale got called for offside, I thought 'typical' and waited for the restart. I didn't see Muamba go down, didn't think anything of it. Usually when someone goes down without contact, he's done his achilles, or maybe a hamstring. Even seeing Modric and Defoe call for a stretcher wasn't out of the ordinary. I've seen players jump up and run around 30 seconds after that plenty of times.
It probably took two or three minutes for the crowd to realize the gravity of the situation. We were at such an angle that we couldn't see the paramedics doing CPR. Then the Bolton fans started cheering, so we assumed he was sitting up. Then someone said they'd pulled out a defibrillator. We saw a fan run onto the field, who was apparently a doctor. Then more paramedics, more doctors. The fans started pleading, almost like we were 1-0 down with a minute to do, willing it to all be over.
I've seen stuff like that on television, but never in person. As tense as that situation would be after, say a car accident, imagine watching it along with 36,000 others. We were all quite aware of the fact that we could see someone die right in front of us -- obviously not what we were expecting out of our Saturday evening.
We could see Jermain Defoe was in tears, others had circled around the scene as bemused as the rest of us. Ten minutes after giving him stick about his red-and-white past, the entire crowd clapped him off.
We'd seen Howard Webb give the signal to the managers and assumed the game was off, yet no one quite wanted to move. The official announcement that the game was abandoned was again met with a round of applause. An awkward set of goodbyes was said, as we weren't quite sure what to do.
I went to meet some friends for a St. Patrick's Day sesh and sat in a bit of a daze for 20 minutes, not really sure what to feel (the Guinness helped with that). Obviously, travelling all that way to see 42 minutes of football was a bit of a disappointment, but that never really crossed my mind.
Thankfully, it sounds like his condition is improving. Still, as bad as it might sound, I realized I'd seen something unique, something that might not -- and God willing won't -- happen ever again in the Premiership, or any league or sport around the world.